New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates the potential benefits of using corticosteroid therapy to treat a common lower respiratory infection known as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).
A team of researchers, led by experts at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, looked at findings from 13 different randomized trials that involved over 2,000 patients. Researchers first discovered that corticosteroid treatment reduced hospital stay—patients who were admitted to the hospital and received corticosteroids to treat CAP were discharged one day earlier.
Study researchers also found that corticosteroid treatment reduced the need for a breathing tube by four percent and reduced the risk of developing the life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome by more than half, from eight percent of patients down to two percent. These results signaled a possibility that corticosteroids could reduce the rate of mortality from CAP by three percent.
CAP includes all cases of pneumonia—characterized by severe lung inflammation—that are contracted outside of the hospital. CAP can be caused by a wide range of factors, including bacteria, a virus, or an infection, making it one of the most common medical conditions in the world. CAP can also range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the severity of the inflammation.
There has been some debate about the use of corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation associated with pneumonia due to potential side effects (i.e. weakening the immune system). However, study authors believe their findings could change the way health professionals think about the use of steroid therapy to treat pneumonia.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Reed, A.C., et al., “Corticosteroid Therapy for Patients Hospitalized With Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 2015; doi: 10.7326/M15-0715. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2424872
Cara, E., “Steroids May Boost Survival Rates, Shorten Hospital Stays For Those With Severe Pneumonia,” Medical Daily web site, August 10, 2015; http://www.medicaldaily.com/steroids-may-boost-survival-rates-shorten-hospital-stays-those-severe-pneumonia-347106.